Capsular polysaccharide synthesis and virulence in the plant pathogenic bacterium Pantoea stewartii ssp. stewartii requires the quorum-sensing regulatory proteins, EsaR and EsaI, and the diffusible inducer N-(3-oxo-hexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone. Prior mutational studies suggested that EsaR might function as a repressor of quorum sensing in the control of capsular polysaccharide synthesis. Further, a lux box-like palindromic sequence coinciding with the putative -10 element of the esaR promoter suggested a possible negative autoregulatory role for EsaR. This report presents genetic evidence that EsaR represses the esaR gene under inducer-limiting conditions, and that addition of inducer promotes rapid, dose-dependent derepression. DNA mobility-shift assays and analyses by surface plasmon resonance refractometry show that EsaR binds target DNAs in a ligand-free state, and that inducer alters the binding characteristics of EsaR. Physical measurements indicate that the EsaR protein binds N-(3-oxo-hexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone, in a 1:1 protein:ligand ratio, and that inducer binding enhances the thermal stability of the EsaR protein. These combined genetic and biochemical data establish that EsaR regulates its own expression by signal-independent repression and signal-dependent derepression. Additionally, we provide evidence that EsaR does not govern the expression of the linked esaI gene, thus EsaR has no role in controlling coinducer synthesis.